Article ID: CBB001214610

In Dogs We Trust? Intersubjectivity, Response-Able Relations, and the Making of Mine Detector Dogs (2014)


The utility of the dog as a mine detector has divided the mine clearance community since dogs were first used for this purpose during the Second World War. This paper adopts a historical perspective to investigate how, why, and to what consequence, the use of minedogs remains contested despite decades of research into their abilities. It explores the changing factors that have made it possible to think that dogs could, or could not, serve as reliable detectors of landmines over time. Beginning with an analysis of the wartime context that shaped the creation of minedogs, the paper then examines two contemporaneous investigations undertaken in the 1950s. The first, a British investigation pursued by the anatomist Solly Zuckerman, concluded that dogs could never be the mine hunter's best friend. The second, an American study led by the parapsychologist J. B. Rhine, suggested dogs were potentially useful for mine clearance. Drawing on literature from science studies and the emerging subdiscipline of animal studies, it is argued that cross-species intersubjectivity played a significant role in determining these different positions. The conceptual landscapes of Zuckerman and Rhine's disciplinary backgrounds are shown to have produced distinct approaches to managing cross-species relations, thus explaining how diverse opinions on minedog can coexist. In conclusion, it is shown that the way one structures relationships between humans and animals has profound impact on the knowledge and labor subsequently produced, a process that cannot be separated from ethical consequence.

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Authors & Contributors
Elan Barenholtz
Alexandra DeCesare
Brad Bolman
Stephen Hoover
Tahan, Mary R.
Emily N. Stark
Twentieth-Century British History
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Recherches de Théologie et Philosophie Médiévales
Peace and Change: A Journal of Peace Research
Nuncius: Annali di Storia della Scienza
科学史研究 Kagakusi Kenkyu (History of Science)
University of Wisconsin at Madison
Arizona State University
Oxford University Press
Cornell University
Animal behavior
Behavioral sciences
Dogs; cats
Science and war; science and the military
Human-animal relationships
Mawson, Douglas
Gantt, W. Horsley
Frisch, Karl von
Amundsen, Roald
Albertus Magnus
Time Periods
20th century
20th century, early
Early modern
19th century
18th century
United States
Great Britain

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